On homes and grief, life and loss

In a joking way I have always asserted that it would take an act of God or nature for our family to move from this little house in which we have known love, good health, security, and happiness these many years.

Now we've sold our family home, and I can only say that, in a way, I came to the decision because of an act of God.

Both of my grandfathers passed away this late spring and summer, and I experienced a real emotional crisis. As my extended family's loss began to sink in, I felt so badly for my husband who had lost all of his grandparents in the past couple decades, his paternal grandfather before we were even a couple. Losing our grandparents feels like an indelible marker on the road of life: You Are HERE. 

And I just want my grandpas back. It was a comfort to know they were in the world even though I spent so much of my life hundreds of miles away from them.

I look back to when I was a teenager and recall how very unhappy I was to be moving from Tennessee to Idaho. And now? I earnestly thank God for that time I had with my grandparents in Idaho, camping, talking, shopping, eating meals, taking walks, that I never would have had if my parents and I had stayed in that beloved home in Tennessee so far from extended family.

My generous husband flew me up late June for what turned out to be a brutal weekend in which I attended my paternal grandfather's memorial service on Saturday and then my maternal grandfather's funeral on the following Monday. The true solace of those few days was the raw beauty found in mourning with family - some of whom I had seen seldom or never actually met before - in telling stories of Papa and Grandpa for the benefit of each other, singing their favorite songs, and listening reverently as "Taps" was played in the quiet of verdant cemeteries for each by an Honor Guard sent to pay tribute to their military service in WWII.

(I will never forget the beautiful image of my mother, her sister, and three brothers standing in a line before their dad's coffin, hand joined in the solidarity of grief.)

Still, emotions ran high during conversation, company was kept late and sleep was elusive, and the evening before my Grandfather Asher's funeral, my sister and I had a vital but highly charged conversation that drained both of us further. (Yet I know Grandpa, who undoubtedly had many difficult family discussions in his life, would have been proud of us for clearing the air.)

When I got home 4th of July, I felt I looked about 50 after sleeping fitfully and eating poorly and balling my eyes out on multiple occasions. In the car ride home from the airport, I sprang the news on my husband that, after talking with my brother and parents about my feelings, I wanted to sell the house. Then I balled again in his arms when I saw that he and Berto had refinished my dining room table as a surprise.

Honestly, I don't know what I've done, why I've done it, or what I've gotten us in to. In large part the idea of selling this house was a way to avoid succumbing to depression in the wake of such a huge loss, a loss that felt so much heavier, because Grandmama Asher, to whom I was very close as a young woman, passed away when my youngest, Daniel, was only six months old.

I thank God for the time I had in my Grandparents Asher's house. I always felt at home there, loved, well cared for, and I admit that my memories of being in their large, rambling home with its spacious yard in a small town made me long to give my family something like it now that both of them are gone - a sort of legacy of the home they created for their grandchildren to visit.

So I have taken a leap of grief and faith and said goodbye to the small but only home my family has ever known since our oldest, Berto, was a mere babe in arms.

Over the years I thought on and off about it whenever our 1240 square foot house felt overwhelmed by our family's activities, but something about the realization of the life marker that clearly states "You Are HERE" gave me an attitude of now or never, leap or sigh. 

I can only hope we find a home that reminds me of all the love and joy I knew in my grandparents' houses.

Our beloved Grandpa and me


  1. I'm so sorry for your losses, Hillary. These losses are life changing events. I hope it leads you to what you are searching for. The love of family and grandparents is a priceless legacy we pass onto our children.

    1. Leonora thank you for your condolences and your well wishes. Everything you asserted is true, and I appreciate your kind words.

  2. Beautiful and honest writing! I think sometimes struggle is the catalyst for necessary change in life that we would otherwise avoid. Sadly this struggle came in the form of losing a dear loved one. I'm thinking about you. Berto's gift was so sweet, that warmed my heart.


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